At the end of yesterday's general audience in St Peter's Square, the Pope made an appeal to heads of State and government of the G8 countries - the seven most industrialized countries in the world plus the Russian Federation - who are holding their annual summit meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany from June 6 to 8. The Pope recalled how on December 16, 2006 he had written to Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, at the beginning of the German presidency of the European Union, "thanking her, in the name of the Catholic Church, for the decision to keep the theme of world poverty on the agenda of the G8, with specific reference to Africa. Chancellor Merkel kindly replied to me on 2 February last, assuring me of the G8's commitment to attaining the Millennium Development Goals. "Now," he added, "I should like to make a further appeal to the leaders meeting at Heiligendamm, not to retreat from their promises to make a substantial increase in development aid in favour of the most needy populations, especially those of the African continent. "In this regard, the second Millennium Goal merits special attention: 'to achieve universal primary education - to ensure that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015.' This is an integral part of the attainment of all the other Millennium Goals: it is a guarantee of the consolidation of goals already reached; it is the starting-point for autonomous and sustainable processes of development. "It must not be forgotten that the Catholic Church has always been at the forefront in the field of education, reaching places, particularly in the poorest countries, that State structures often fail to reach. Other Christian Churches, religious groups and organizations of civil society share this educational commitment. According to the principle of subsidiarity, this reality should be recognized, valued and supported by governments and international organizations, among other things by the allocation of sufficient funding, so that greater efficacy may be guaranteed in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Let us hope," he concluded, "that serious efforts be made to reach these objectives." Source: VIS
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